Fredrick’s return to action propels Hawkeyes to win over Rutgers

Sophomore guard C.J. Fredrick returned to Iowa’s starting lineup Wednesday night, totaling 17 minutes in the Hawkeyes’ 79-66 win over the Scarlet Knights.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa guard CJ Fredrick takes a shot during a menÕs basketball game between Iowa and Rutgers at Carver-Hawkeye on Wednesday.

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

The last 35 days have been as tough as any sophomore guard C.J. Fredrick has faced. Since Iowa’s Jan. 7 matchup with Maryland, the mainstay in the Hawkeyes’ starting lineup just hasn’t felt like himself.

“The last couple weeks have just been really frustrating for me as a player,” Fredrick said after Iowa’s 79-66 win over Rutgers Wednesday night. “I haven’t really, the past couple weeks, been able to be myself. Just having good days, having bad days. It’s frustrating.”

Fredrick has been dealing with a lower leg injury that’s forced him to miss three of Iowa’s last six games: at Indiana, at No. 6 Illinois, and versus No. 4 Ohio State. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native also missed the second halves of Iowa’s Jan. 21 matchup with Indiana and its Feb. 13 date with Michigan State.

During that six-game stretch, Iowa lost four games.

“It’s been really frustrating,” Fredrick said. “Just waking up and just having a brutal day and then the next day I’m feeling OK. It’s just been a lot to manage in my mind. You know, coming to practice every day and just being around the guys, them being positive with me and encouraging with me, that’s what helps me. I love this team. I love being a Hawk. It’s just why I think I’m really getting better.”

After he logged 17 minutes on the floor Wednesday night, Fredrick said he’s finally starting to feel normal again. 

“[The injury] started against Maryland and progressively got a lot worse and got the point where I had to shut it down for a little bit,” Fredrick said. “I mean this, in all sincerity, I’m getting a lot better. I feel like I can start being myself again. So, hopefully that can continue.”

Even before the opening tap of the Hawkeyes’ contest with the Scarlet Knights, Fredrick felt like he was beginning to overcome his injury.

“I would say the last week I’ve just been really feeling good,” Fredrick said. “Two days ago, I called my parents after practice and I just said like, ‘This is probably one of the best days I had practicing.’ I just felt like myself again, kind of had tears in my eyes. I’ve been feeling a lot better. I thought I did everything I could out there today. You know, I feel pretty good after the game.”

Fredrick did not register a single point in the scoring column Wednesday, but still he found other ways to contribute.

“I was just able to cut a lot better, run, play really good defense, I thought,” Fredrick said. “The scoring and stuff will come. I haven’t been getting a lot of reps in practice. These past few days I did. I’m not worried about that. I think the more I practice, and the more reps I get, and the better rhythm I get, that’ll come back. I thought I did a good job of staying within the offense, making plays that were needed, playing good defense, making the right passes. I had a couple shots in the first half that didn’t fall and they were good shots, but we got a win, and that’s really all it’s about.”

While Fredrick did sit out much of the first half and the early portion of the second with three fouls, he made the plays late in the game that Iowa needed, setting center Luka Garza up for several easy buckets.

“[Fredrick] is another guy who’s going to spread the court for us,” Garza said. “Obviously, he’s probably one of the most consistent shooters in the nation. So, he provides a lot for us. Defensively, he’s really, really good at the top of our zone. So, it was great to have him back. We were missing him a little bit. Obviously it wasn’t the reason we lost some of those games, but we definitely missed him.”

Even when Fredrick was playing without the ball, he helped Iowa’s offense as he generated many scoring opportunities for guard Joe Wieskamp, who put together a 26-point, 10-rebound double-double.

“Obviously C.J. didn’t have as good of a game offensively, scoring the ball, like I’m sure he would’ve hoped,” Wieskamp said. “Just having him out on the floor draws so much attention. Teams scouting, they’re up into his face just like they’re up into mine. Having him out there, and also defensively, he’s one of our best defenders. So, having him out there on their guards, they have a lot of quick, athletic guards, so just to have him out on the floor was a great sign for us. I know that he’ll get his rhythm offensively going forward.”

The next opportunity for Fredrick to get going offensively will come this Saturday as Iowa heads to East Lansing to take on a 10-7 Michigan State team at 1:37 p.m. As of Wednesday night, Fredrick said he intends to play in the Hawkeyes’ next game.

“It’s a day-to-day thing,” Fredrick said. “Hopefully I wake up tomorrow and I’m feeling good. I plan on playing against Michigan State.”

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